tv Second Look FOX March 27, 2011 11:00pm-11:30pm PDT
her life and her career were the stuff of legend. tonight, we remember a woman who had a celebrated hollywood career, and who used her celebrity to raise millions to help in the fight against aids, and the fear and silence that shrouded public understanding of the disease. the life of elizabeth taylor, tonight on a "second look." good evening. and this is a "second look." she once said she couldn't remember a time when she was not famous. this week, a woman who was once
known worldwide simply as "liz" died. elizabeth taylor's first movie was released when she was just 10 years. her movies made her a star, but the life she lived in the public eye contributed to her legend. married eight times, twice after richard burton. she traveled the world with her children following her daily life. she had three oscars and many of her hollywood costars described her as a life-long friend. when one of those friends rock hudson came down with a then barely-understood illness, she raised money against aids and sometimes, that brought her here to san francisco. >> i am here once more to ask for your help, your compassion, and your love. i am here for those who cannot be here to ask for themselves. >> we begin tonight with the
year elizabeth taylor began this part of her life's work, the year rod hudson revealed that he had acquired aids. we reported on the effect of the actor's revelation here in san francisco in july of 1985. >> people who have been working on the aids issue for the past few years seem unanimous in their reaction. they're saddened by the personal tragedy, but they see that aurg laker purpose has been served. >> that means that many people who know rock hudson can say this is a person with aids, this is a person fighting for his life, to be able to to survive, and that's something that many, many americans need to know. >> and the necessity of his seeking treatment in paris also serves that purpose. >> 12,000 people in america who have been diagnosed with aids, and they're being forced to flee the country, because people don't understand that. now, suddenly, rock hudson has been forced to flee the country to get treatment for aids. >> as far as we know, he has
never made a public for announcement about aids, and we consider it a national health crisis and hopefully now, he will feel better about stepping forward and saying something that this is a crisis and this is what the government is going to do about it. >> it was a secret apparently on the public. so another question is being asked now, how will that affect other celebrities who may also be in the closet? >> the whole issue of whether or not he's gay, and if this will encourage other people to do such is a whole arena of speculation and hope within the gay community. >> rock hudson left paris after a few weeks and returned to los angeles where he lost his battle with aids on october 2nd, 1985. he had revealed his illness at a time when that was something a star simply didn't do. 12 years later, reporter gloria hillered looked at how hudson's revelation changed hollywood.
>> reporter: it wasn't until this day in 1985, when rock hudson appeared in public with long-time friend dor day that something changed. >> he came into the press conference in front of a vast number of vernallists, and they all gasped. >> reporter: on a disease called aids, there was now a face. >> he was a movie star. he had everything in the whole world going for him, money, fame, looks, he had everything, but he was going to die. this could happen to your son, your brother, hey, america, wake up. >> reporter: a wakeup call for hollywood was the allowed. a number of people behind the scenes are already died. >> we will not be defeated by this illness. >> reporter: and her foundation was born. >> all we can do at this point is help our friends who have aids, and the only way we can
do that is by doing what you are doing. >> reporter: aids fundraising had begun, and the symbol was a red ribbon, red ribbons and hand-sewn quilts. and names, hundreds of names. >> michael struck. >> ronald gascon, and my d.c. brother michael hickory. >> i have more people that i've known and loved and worked with die. >> reporter: and each year, we did stories every 10 minutes. someone dies from aids. at some museums, every 10 minutes, the bell tolled for them, and each year, added names to the increasing list of those who had died. ♪[ music ]
>> reporter: the story of aids was brought to the stage. ♪[ singing ] >> reporter: and the screen. in 1992, middle america watched tom hanks in an oscar winning portrayal of a gay man dying of aids. >> sadly, the darkest days lie ahead of us. hundreds of thousands of lives hang in the balance, unless we begin to confront aids as a true national emergency. >> just a few months after rock hudson's death, elizabeth taylor came to san francisco to begin a fundraising effort, which she would continue in the bay area for decade. we reported on the visit in january, 1986. >> the symphony hall will kick off a nationwide campaign to fight money -- raise money to fight aids. >> we must give of our love,
and affection to those who are in need. we must give of our time, and money to benefit all humanity for our children, our tomorrows and for their tomorrows. [ applause ] >> reporter: other than taylor herself, so far, no stars have signed on to do the benefit, but whoever shows up, it will cost an awful lot to see them. tickets will be $250 to $2,005,000 apiece. the mayor gave ms. taylor a key to the city and proclaimed the day elizabeth taylor day. >> still to come on a "second look," they were the most famous film couple in the world. we look back at the careers of both richard burton and
tonight, we're remembering hollywood legend elizabeth taylor, who died this week at the age of 79. throughout her life, she had survived many serious health problems. at the time of her 65th birthday, she was facing surgery for a brain tumor. she chose to use that occasion of her birthday for a black tie event that raised a million dollars to fight a.i.d.s. we reported on the birthday bash in los angeles in 1997. >> reporter: elizabeth taylor arrived on the arm of michael jackson. it was a grand entrance just days before her birthday and upcoming brain surgery. jackson composed a new song called elizabeth for the event, a celebration of her life with proceeds benefiting the elizabeth taylor a.i.d.s. foundation. fans gathered to cheer the actress and stars paid tribute to the living legend. >> she's been brave. she's raised a lot of money for things that matter.
>> she took all of that, her beauty, the glamour and channeled it into raising money for the great crisis of our age. it's something that is really well deserved. >> reporter: she met taylor more than 50 years ago, making the film that would make her a star. >> do you think a race like this is won by luck? >> no, by knowing that i can win. >> like every young man at that time, i fell in love with elizabeth taylor. >> oh, rick! how long does this have to go on, this punishment? >> well, cleopatra is the classic. i like that one the best. >> i love you. i've loved you since the first moment i saw you. >> reporter: oscar nominee billy bob thorton's favorite -- [ indiscernible ] >> when she is on the screen,
your eyes are glued to her. >> reporter: steven segal greeted her through the paparazzi, and two of eddy fisher's children talked about their famous family true. >> she's a great lady. she was married to my father. she was probably may favorite ex-step-mother. >> reporter: patty labellle offered a musical birthday greeting. >> happy birthday, i love you. >> this week brought an outpouring of memories, and tribute to elizabeth taylor from those who knew her in hollywood. here in san francisco, people remembered her for the time, and energy she devoted to beating a killer. she once said, it is bad enough that people should die of a.i.d.s., but they should not die of ignorance. paul chambers reported on san francisco's reaction this week. >> reporter: she's considered hollywood royalty by many, but if the attention -- but it's the attention she's brought to a.i.d.s.
that is getting affection from the gay community. >> she's raised hundreds of millions of dollars, and we're going to miss her. >> reporter: it may be hard for the new generation to understand the impact elizabeth taylor had. she brought millions of dollars here to san francisco and spoke out at times when no one else would. taylor began her campaign to educate the world about a.i.d.s. in 1985 when her good friend was ostracized after word got out he had the virus. >> she helped reduce the stigma and discrimination. >> reporter: from 1986 to 1996, dr. nerven silverman served as president for the american foundation of a.i.d.s. research, working hand in hand withtailer with raising money for the cause. he says what she did back then has made a huge difference. >> helping us to raise the necessary fund for basic research, which has been the basis for the number of discoveries that have since
happened. >> she used her celebrity in that very important cause at a very important moment of history. and she'll be missed. >> reporter: in her later years, taylor wasn't able to get out and fundraise as much as she wanted. she provided funding to 20 different organizations, many in the fight against a.i.d.s. >> when we come back on "second look," how a roamance helped create a destination in mexico. and bob shaw looks back at the loves and life of actor richard burton.
few people today who visit the mexican tourist town realize that it was a famous love affair that first put it on the world's radar. in 1964 elizabeth taylor married richard burton. the couple went on location that spring to a small fishing village on the pacific coast of mexico where burton was cost in the movie the night of the
iguana. worldwide press coverage resulted in a sudden tourist interest. tailer and burton bought a home in the town, which they used as a vacation getaway. over the years, it became a magnet for american tourists. last year, elizabeth taylor cooperated in a new book about her life with richard burton. she gave the author private letters, and other materials, motivated by a recent poll which found her name far more recognizable than his. at the time of his death in 1984, ktvu movie man bob shaw looks back at his career. >> reporter: one of 13 children, his first ambition was to become a preacher. >> i did seriously consider becoming a minister, priest, but whether i would have made a good one is from the rest of my life as you can imagine extremely doubtful. >> reporter: under the tutorship of a school master,
he won a scholarship to oxford used to be. his acclaim led to leading roles in plays and eventually, hollywood films. >> every step reminds you. >> reporter: before the age of 30, burton was being touted and starring in multimillion dollar movies, bringing class to each production. >> but if the empire and the emperor wish to pursue the course of slavery, if there's nothing left for men to hope for, my king will march forward to right those wrongs. >> reporter: burton's performances were tempered by a nobility way beyond his years. he returned to the stage between films. his hamlet was -- his most popular success was the in the broadway play camelot which opened in 1960.
two years later, fox paid $50,000 to buy out burton's camelot contract so he could replace steven boyd as mark anthony in their new version of cleopatra. the rest as they say is history. within weeks, they became news. there is no telling the direction their careers might have taken if they had not met, but it resulted in 20 years of professional and personal triumphs and tragedies under the eye of a gossip-hungry world. they were rich, beautiful, and constantly at each other's throats. >> i believed it more times than i'd like to admit. i don't believe you. i just don't believe you. there is no moment any more when we could come together. >> they made 10 films together. who's afraid of verge wolf, and a spirited version of the taming of the shrew. >> who knows not where a wasp does wear his sting in his
tail. >> you talk of tails and so farewell. >> but more often than not, their vehicles were ill conceived overplayed efforts, such as hammersmith is out and boom. and burton's choices for solo performances were just as erratic. for every master piece, there were two or three disappointments such as blue beard or exorcist 2. >> i do believe. >> reporter: lifestyle affected his career decisionses. he was the example of what was considered a man's man, a hard drinking womanizer, unashamed of scandal, but he was insecure and believed his superstardom came from his marriage to elizabeth taylor. this contributed to his alcoholism, which in turn contributed to the destruction of his marriage and a drop in the quality of his work. there was a period when he would appear in almost any production that would pay him over a million dollars. burton admitted he didn't recall making some of those
films. and reading about his offscreen tirades only added to the picture of a wasted talent. while burton was still capable of exceptional work such as his role in equis, he was only a bankable star when reteamed with taylor, or while reliving past glories. since his personal life had calmed down recently, he was healthy, and had stopped drinking, his early death seems all the more tragic. happily years from now, only his best works will be remembered and when richard burton was at his best, he was the best. >> it could mean war, it could mean the loss of your kingdom. i will bring the two halves into the void. >> i'm bob shaw and that is segment two for tonight. >> when we come back, on a "second look," ktvu remembers rock hudson.
reached people. she had been known in hollywood as a loyal friend to many actors, and in her later life, seemed to care as much about their legacy as her own onscreen work. one of those actors was rock hudson. ktvu had had this look at his career. >> i'm rock hudson. >> well, i know that. [ laughter ] >> reporter: by the time rock hudson appeared on the i love lucy show, he was already the stuff woman dreamed of, a hollywood heart throb who could take a woman's breath away. >> would you like a piece of rock, mr. candy? [ laughter ] >> but he wasn't just a dreamboat. he established himself as a top 10 box office draw, and he had a certain comic timing that surprised even himself. >> all day and all night. and finally, she couldn't stand it any longer, and she said
sam, just one more whistle and i'll leave you. >> and? >> and he whistled, and she did. ♪[ music ] >> reporter: it was the 1956 movie giant costarring elizabeth taylor and james dean that really convinced producers and critics he could act. even though he had already appeared in dozens of films. hudson portrayed a rancher, a role clark gable reportedly fought for, and this is the film that brought rock hudson an academic award nomination. >> was that a war? >> no, just little old kyle. don't you think you've done enough sightseeing for a little while? ♪[ music ]
>> i don't know how to feel on a honeymoon, mr. benedict, sir, but i'm having a lovely time. >> it hasn't been dull, so far anyway. >> reporter: through the his life, it remained his favorite movie. he owned a print of it that he would screen for his friends. ♪[ music ] >> get your clothes off. we're going to my apartment. >> how dare you? >> reporter: hudson surprised many by leaping successfully into a series of light romantic comedies beginning with pillow talk in 1959. hudson once said that he was terrified of making a comedy. >> i talked to the director, and i said i've never played a comedy, and he thought for a
moment, and said just remember, comedy is the most serious tragedy there is. and he said if you think you're funny, nobody else will. so don't you ever try to make me laugh, and that kind of stuck with me. plus, working with the master. and she is a master of comedy. >> in 196, hudson surprised more critics in the chilling movie second. he portrayed a man who undergoes an operation to totally change his identity and can't cope with the results. >> hey, john. why are they staring at me like that? >> they know. >> they know what? >> reporter: hudson also became one of the few big screen stars to make the jump to series tv. his last appearance on tv was in dynasty. a movie star before he became an actor, he was the last major star to come out of the hollywood studio system of the
1950s and '60s. it was a system that took attractive people with the right look, and presence and molded them into film stars. useful put hudden in films geared towards the female audience, like this one, magnificent obsession. the agents spread the fable that rock hudson was discovered while delivering mail to a talent agent. he was born on november 17th and in illinois. he was to die in his sleep 59 years later after losing a leer-long battle against a.i.d.s. >> and that's tonight's "a second look." thanks for watching.